Could a Popular Minnesota Sports Venue Be Torn Down?
It's been standing proud in Minnesota for nearly 10 decades but is a new proposal considering tearing this longtime sports venue down?
It's been a staple here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes since it first opened nearly 96 years ago. But now, the iconic sports venue-- which has been hosting games since Herbert Hoover was in the White House and Theodore Christianson was Minnesota's governor-- could look very different, or not be standing at all.
So what is the venue in question? That would be Williams Arena, affectionately known as 'The Barn.' It's located on the campus of the University of Minnesota (U of M) in Minneapolis, where it's been standing for nearly 100 years. But will it see another 100 years?
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Okay, let's not get too ahead of ourselves just yet, though. While there aren't any specific plans that call for 'The Barn' to be demolished, the U of M IS considering just what it should do with the facility: renovate it or build a new arena entirely.
According to a story in the Star Tribune, University officials haven't given a timetable on any possible updates or replacements to 'The Barn'. But updating the facility, which opened back in 1928 and which is home to the U of M men's and women's basketball programs, is something they're apparently considering.
The U of M signed a contract in October with Populous, a Kansas City-based architectural firm, to explore renovation for Williams Arena/Maturi Pavilion or the construction of a new facility, according to the contract sent to the Star Tribune.
Meanwhile, the Pioneer Press indicated that while renovating 'The Barn' would likely be preferable, the newly-authorized Populous feasibility study will "look at the building’s engineering, architecture and square-footage footprint to determine if renovating it is the best course of action," the story said.
Of course, neither story said that tearing down 'The Barn' was a feature of any possible plan. And I'm hoping it stays that way if only to save one of its most unique features: the raised basketball floor. I've always been curious about why the playing surface is raised at the Barn when, at most other basketball arenas, the hardwood playing surface is on the ground level. According to this Minnesota Daily story, the Barn's floor was raised to improve sightlines, help fans see better, and "provide a better view of the action."
It's been a few years since any updates were completed at 'The Barn.' The U of M says the latest was 10 years ago when the arena received a makeover as new center-hung LED scoreboards, LED fascia boards, and sound systems were installed.
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